Protestantism after five years of implementing the direction no. 01


 Protestantism after five years of implementing the Direction No. 01 of the Prime Minister

 Regarding to religion in the country, Protestantism is very new, very great and very difficult issue both relating to domestic work, and foreign affairs of the Party and the Government

Facing to this situation, on the 5th of February, 2005, the Prime Minister issued Direction No. 01/CT-TTg on some tasks for Protestantism (abbreviated Direction No. 01). After 5 years of implementing of Direction No. 01, Protestantism had achieved important results which help to make Protestant situation in Vietnam more positive. This contributes to religious activities of the Party and the Government in the innovative period.
1. The situation of Protestantism and the establishment of the Direction No. 01
+ The situation of Protestantism. Protestantism presented in Vietnam since the late nineteenth century, but officially transferred its religion and built the first facility in Da Nang in 1911 by the CMA, also known as (The Christian and Missionary of Alliance of American-CMA). By 1954, Protestants in Vietnam had about 60 thousand followers, more than 100 pastors and missionaries. In 1975 Church membership had 200 thousand people, more than 500 dignitaries, over 20 organizations and denominations. After 1975, activityies of Protestant alittle bit reduced, but then recovered from the 80's up to now especially in ethnic minorities in mountainous area in Northern, the Central Highlands with over a million followers in 2005. When implementing the Ordinance about belief, religion in Vietnam, there are four Protestant areas with the different situation and different solutions:
- Protestant organizations which have legality. Vietnam Protestant Church (in South) and Vietnam Protestant Church (in North) are the two major Protestant organizations which had been recognized as the legal organizations with over 700 thousand religious followers before the Direction No. 01 issued. However, due to many reasons, Vietnam Protestant Church (in North) was recognized as legal entity from 1958, after this organization underwent a crisis of leadership lasted for 20 years (1994-2004). Vietnam Protestant Church (in South) was recognized as legal entity in 2001, but in the Central Highlands the organization does not operate normally. This poses a lot of problems that need to be addressed after 25 years it has operated unofficially.
- The organizations, Protestant sects which have not been recognized as legal entities. In 1975, in the South there were just over ten Protestant sects, but in 2005 there were approximately seven dozen organizations, Protestant denominations with more than 300 thousand active followers. The Protestant organizations, sects are diverse in origin, size and organizational structure. There are some organizations which presented in the South before 1975, and some other organizations appeared recently. They might be introduced from foreign countries into Vietnam, or be extracted from the sects before 1975.
Most Protestant organizations did not have house of worship to worship and legal. Among 2,500 groups, there were only 14 houses of worship. Most dignitaries were promoted by them selves and they are different in standards. Many organizations had hundreds of thousands of followers, but many groups had only a few hundred people. Most organizations based in Ho Chi Minh, but the area of operation was in the provinces and cities in the country, especially in West North and Western Highlands.
- In the Central Highlands. According to geography in Vietnam, at the time issued Direction No. 01, there were two regions, the Central Highlands, central coast highlands and southern Truong Son (called the Central Highlands) and northern mountainous areas (called North West) must pay much attention to problems of Protestantism. In the Central Highlands with over 400 thousand people, they were mostly new Protestants in the last decades of the twentieth century (compared to 1975 the Protestants here increased over 7 times, because before 1975 there were just over 60 thousand people).
The number of new Protestants in the Central Highlands was in many organizations and sects in nearly 2,000 places. Since 2001 when Vietnam Protestant Church (in South) was approved as legal entility up to 2005, there was only about 10% of those under the direction of this organization in the central highlands. The rest had not been registered under the law.
 - In the northwestern region. Except for 01 branch of Yao tribe in Bac Son district, Lang Son province was included in Vietnam Protestant Church (in North) established before 1945. From the mid of 1980, Protestantism penetrated and rapidly developed in northwest with a total number about 110 thousand new people including mostly ethnic Mongolian (excluding about 25,000 Mongolia Protestants migrated to the Central Highlands in 2005). Due to many reasons, all ethnic minority Protestants in the northern mountainous province had not been recognized as religious activities. Their activities raised many problems related to ethnic, religious education, culture, social order and safety.
Noted that even though people became Protestants before 1975 or have been Protestants recently, even though they are in Kinh tribe or in ethnic minorities in the Northwest, Central Highlands, even though they are farmers or urbanites, intellectuals, religious people news ... Vietnam religious followers are so many; they have religious belief, have feelings and needs normal religious activities. They should be cared carefully.
+ The situation of establishment of Direction 01. Beside a large number of Protestant members need to perform religious activities as above, the Direction No.1 was issued in the situation as follows:
- Firstly, awareness of Protestantism and the work of the Protestants of the different departments are different. The government’s policy of Protestantism was formed since the 1980s through 184-TB/TW Report (1998), Notice 255-TB/TW (1999) but it had not been concretized in legal documents and officially implemented in practice. 
The management of the Government about Protestantism did not show efficiency. Direct legal proceedings about evangelization and following religion to the central administrative especially the area in Mongolia in northwestern was quite complicate. Some cases were abused by bad people. They talked bad about Vietnam in term of violation of democracy, human rights. They even openly imposed conditions, put pressure on Vietnam in multilateral and bilateral relation.
One other important issue is to implement policies toward Protestantism in the context that the Government has just issued Ordinance on Belief and religion. This legislative document has most legality in the field of religion. Especially, ordinance about belief, religion has effectiveness and high uniformity. It means that the provisions of the Ordinance must be implemented in practice and performed across Vietnam. There is no distinction between the regions and the localities. This raised the implementation of policies towards religion in general and especially towards Protestantism must be seriously consistent with the law. In another view, the ordinances towards belief, religion regulate religious activities in common while religious activities of Protestantism as mentioned above were not eligible to comply with the provisions of the Ordinance.
- Addressing Protestants in Vietnam must be put in the context in which the country has entered the period of industrialization and modernization. According to the analyzation above, due to its characteristics in history, religion, culture... Protestantism has more points in accordance with the lifestyle and culture of urbanites in industrial society. Furthermore, addressing the problem of Protestantism in the conditions in which the country entered a period of openness and integration while Protestantism is a large international religion with 700 million believers (including Anglican), highly influential in the advanced industrial Western Europe, Northern Europe and North America. Therefore we must actively implement the policies toward Protestantism in the context of national and international conditions.
Thus, in the condition that the government issued the Ordinance on Belief and religion, we must create unity in the perception and work toward Protestantism, and create stability to implement the laws as other religions do. On the other hand, the mission of Protestantism is to work actively in the reformed era to contribute significantly to the foreign policy of the Party and the Government.
2. The contents of the Direction No. 01
Acquire the Party’s view point toward Protestantism in the new era through Report 184 (1988), Report 255 (1999): Do not ban Protestantism, only prohibit  abuse of Protestantism for bad purposes; do not develop Protestantism as well as do not create conditions for development of Protestantism, but respect and guarantee the right of having freedom for belief, religion. We also need to be aware of Protestantism’s diversification to manage by law. We also must guide and help Protestant organizations and sects to build direction for progressive activities sticking with the nation. Furthermore, we need reject abuse of Protestantism which undermines the national unity and political stability of the country.
Based on the above directions, Direction No. 01 states some work for Protestantism
Firstly, implement the programs of economic- social development, build material and spiritual life for people, and create conditions for Protestant followers stick with community so that they can participate better the economic, social and cultural activities. Then they will contribute to national construction, national defense. At the same time, "strengthen advocacy and create favorable conditions for dignitaries, Protestant believers to implement the Party's policies and laws of the Government toward belief and religion; take religious activities of Protestantism into order, and in accordance with law; encourage all dignitaries and believers " Live the Gospel, serve God, serve the people and the Nation." 
Secondly, for the Protestant organizations was recognized as legal entity, such as Vietnam Protestant Church (in North), Vietnam Protestant Church (in South). "The Government shall guide and assist performance of religious activities in accordance with the Charter (Regulation) of the religious organization and according to the law." Specifically, activities of religious believers, and operation of the dignitaries of the religious organizations, training and promoting, or moving dignitaries, printing and publishing Holy books, repairing places of worship, charitable activities, relationships with international Protestant organizations... 
Thirdly, for the Protestant organizations which have not been recognized as legal entity in Vietnam before 1975 perform purely religious activities, if they have enough conditions according to the provisions of the Ordinance on belief and religion, they can conduct procedures so that the head office, by the Charter, can elect leadership. By this, religious organization can be identified as legal entity.
For other Protestant sects, which have not enough conditions to be considered as legal entity on the organization, "if they need to perform religious activity, they can register with the government office to get the right to religious operation”. As time goes by, if they have enough conditions prescribed by law, they shall be considered as legal entity of ecclesiastical organizations.
Fourthly, for Protestants in ethnic minority in the Central Highlands the government continues to consider recognition for local ecclesiastic organizations of the Vietnam Protestant Church (in Southern of Vietnam). The government also facilitates favorable conditions for these organizations to build house of worship, train and choose dignitaries to guide the branches which have been recognized in accordance with the law.
  For the organization which have not enough condition to establish religious branch, if religious people need to operate purely religious activities, commit to comply with the provisions of law, do not work for reactionaries Fulro (Dega), the "commune, ward’ office will facilitate them to do normal religious activities at home or approve their registration to take religious activities at appropriate locations in the villages ". 
Fifthly, for the number of ethnic minorities in northern mountainous provinces which have just follow Protestantism, we need to base on their religious needs to pass the appropriate direction: "For the people who have followed Protestantism for along time or have need to do religious activities, we need guide them to register to do religious activities at appropriate locations in all villages. When they meet the conditions, we should facilitate people to do religious activities normally under the law.”
Sixthly, fight against plots and tricks, abuse of religious, abuse of Protestantism to incite, entice people to separate the nation, against the country. We need publically announce people awareness of activities which violate the laws of those who abuse the Protestant religion. At the same time "strictly prohibit and punish those who force people to leave religion as well as force to follow religion.”
Seventhly, to perform the specific content above, the Prime Minister emphasized that all levels and departments "must organize thoroughly and fully implement the Party's guidelines and the State’s laws of religion, and the policies toward Protestantism" so that we can create unity and coordination when implementing work of Protestantism
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Xuan - Deputy Director of the Government Committee for Religion Affair met Pastor Nguyen Huu Mac - The head of the Protestant Church of Vietnam (in North) on the occasion that Protestant Church of Vietnam (in North) visited the Government Committee for Religion Affair in Tet holiday 2012.
3. Results of implementing Direction No. 01
Recognize the importance and significance of the Direction No. 01, the Government Committee for Religion Affair coordinated with the ministries, related central and local agencies to build three major plans to concretize and help to implement of Direction No. 01 with good results such as (Plan No. 04 (2005); carrying out work for Protestantism in the Central Highlands; Plan No. 05 (2006) carrying out work for Protestantism in the northwestern region; Plan No. 08 (2006) carrying out work with the religious organization which have not been recognized as entity).
Specifically, with three above-mentioned work plans, the implementation of Direction No. 01 was participated by many local governments according to the law, in accordance with special situation of each region. They also piloted and evaluated experiences in each stage. Identify that the work of Protestantism is new, and difficult. Awareness of Protestantism and the work of Protestantism in the political system have a gap between different offices so that in one of important work is to thorough grasp work for Protestantism in the new situation. This work is associated with the process of implementation the 7th Resolution of the Central (Term IX) toward religious ordinances. There are so many diverse forms (training conference, talks, propaganda on media,). The Government Committee for Religion has organized 70 training conferences for 12,500 turns who work religion at province, district and local. Many local offices translate document related to religion, Direction No. 01 to an ethnic language such as Banar, Jrai, Ede, and Xedang, Mongolia ... and then spread on the media. All these actions have created a fundamental change in the political and social system and synchronization to facilitate the implementation.
When implementing, in 2007, under the direct guidance of the Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong, the Government Committee for Religion Affair held meeting to consolidate three-year implementation of Direction No. 01 in the country to assess the results, to draw up lessons, point out mistake, and concurrently determine the focus of the next stage.
Here are the results of each region after five years of implementing of Direction No. 01: 
+ For Vietnam Protestant Church (in North) and Vietnam Protestant Church (in South)
By now, both the two organizations have been consolidated, and operated under the direction of improvement according to the legal. They also promoted the role of the major religious organizations, created positive impact on the Protestant organizations, Protestant sects in Vietnam. In Vietnam Protestant Church (in North) is strengthened in many aspects, such as ordaining pastors, restoring training dignitaries and so on ... Furthermore, the religious association has kept the impact on the North West region and promote its role in the Vietnam Fatherland Front. Vietnam Protestant Church (in South) completely normalizes all activities in the southern provinces. They held theology classes in the provinces, expanded Biblical and Theological Institute in Ho Chi Minh City. This institute has trained 5 courses for a total of nearly 500 students, published dozens of pastoral books (including 30 thousand bilingual books such as Vietnamese - Bannar, Vietnam - Ede, Vietnam – Jrai…). Specifically, in June 2011, the two religious associations celebrated the 100th anniversary of Protestantism since it came to Vietnam (1911-2011) in Da Nang, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This has enhanced the position of two associations in the country and in the world.
+ For the organizations, Protestant sects who have not recognized 
This area posed many problems in management before implementing Direction No. 01. Based on thorough assessment of the current status, history of activity and characteristics of religion and society ... of each Protestant organization, then guide registration to get recognition for religious organizations in accordance with law and legal order.
By 2011, the Prime Minister recognized, authorized the Government Committee for Religion Affair to recognize the seven Protestant organizations and give permission paper to one unit. Specifically, Christian Mission in Vietnam (2007), the Adventist Church in Vietnam (2007), Vietnam Southern Grace Baptist Church (2008), the Vietnamese Baptist Church - Southern (2008), Mennonite Church of Vietnam (2008), Protestant Presbyterian Church of Vietnam (2008), Christian Fellowship Church of Vietnam (2011). He also gave registration for the Vietnam Gospel Pentecostal Church (2009).  The total numbers of Protestant organizations in Vietnam which have been recognized and registered are 10 organizations.
It is respectful that along with the process of legal recognition for religious organization, the Protestant organizations above determine their direction of religious activities and social activities in a developed way. They will commit to the national interest and comply with legal and cultural integration of Vietnam. Specifically Adventist Church in Vietnam: "worship the Triune God of the living, loving fellow, respect the God, love people and serve the country"; Christian Mission in Vietnam: "Propagandize Jeus Christ’s name to everyone, so that they can build the church to worship God and love human beings "; Vietnam Baptist Church (Southern Grace):"worship the Triune God, love people as God's teaching: all our heart, all soul, all your mind must be very respectful of God and love your neighbor as yourself”.
Live and act according to the requirement of social development, unite with nation, unite to build a prosperous nation "; Vietnam Baptist Church (Southern):" Dear God, love people, worship God, study God's word in the Bible, evangelize, unite to build association, live the Gospel, serve God, serve the country, and comply with the law "; Mennonite Church of Vietnam: " worship the Triune God and love people as God's words in the Bible, live the Gospel, serve God, serve the country and accompany with the country"; Christian Fellowship Church of Vietnam: "loyally worship the Triune God, love people as God’s words in Scripture and be loyal to the nation", ...
+ For Protestantism in the Central Highlands 
The authorities in the Central Highlands, Binh Phuoc have normalized and put into management by law with most of activities of the Protestant religion. The whole region has nearly religious 450 thousand followers of 31 branches and Protestant organizations at home, of which the number of followers who do religious activities legally in 184 branches and 1,284 places with more than 430 thousand people. This accounted for nearly 91% (Kon Tum was 93%, Dak Lak was 78%, Dak Nong was 100%, Lam Dong was 97%, Gia Lai was 93%, ...). Protestant Boards of Representative in the provinces were strengthened according to the Charter (2001) of the General Federation of Vietnamese Alliance Church (in South). There are 80 branches after they were recognized, they were helped by the local  government when they do job related to land allocation procedure, transferring the right of using land and conversion of using land (of which 49 branches have been started to build the church, 31 branches have land and they are asking for permission of building). More than 150 pastors, 180 dignitaries were recognized by the local authorities. They also permitted dozens of ethnic minority people to go to biblical school of Theology Institute; over 300 students have been trained Theology. This work was done to prepare a number of dignitaries with full knowledge of culture, law, theology ... for the branches, the group is recognized. 30,000 bilingual Bible books (Vietnamese - Banar, Vietnamese - Ede, Vietnamese - Jrai) were published and released to meet the daily needs of religious believers in the ethnic minorities. 
+ For the northern mountainous region 
This region is where Protestantism has just developed, so it poses many problems from both the Protestant and the authorities. Evangelization of Protestantism in the first period led to the elimination of customs and traditional beliefs; hence, it caused additional conflict of cultures, lifestyles, in some places also caused solidarity among each family, clan and village, which affects the social order. Partly due to lack understanding religion in general, especially Protestantism, even people affected by negative impact caused by the evangelicals and Catholics, so it caused anxiety, worry for the authorities. 
After the five provinces succeeded with 18 groups of protestant followers, by 2011 there was 12 among 13 provinces in northern mountainous areas which gave permission for 258 among 1.249 groups of Protestant, including 242 groups Vietnam Protestant Church (in North), 16 groups of Christian Fellowship Church. Religious activities of 45,160 believers which accounted for 20.8% of the groups and by 32,04% of the Protestant people of the region were in management. Basically, after registration, "operation of the Protestant groups is quite stable; abide by the policies of the Party and laws of the Government and local regulations. The number of "hot spots" and the lawsuit related to Protestantism almost disappeared. Discord does not happen in the villages between religious and non-believers. Mongolian ethnic’s free migration reduced. The groups are open and cooperate with local authorities when operating.
+ Together with the results in four Protestant areas as mentioned above, the implementation of Direction No. 01 has created favorable conditions for Protestant organizations to participate in international activities. According to incomplete statistics of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, from 2006 to 2011, in about 80 international delegations met the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, there were over 50 delegations mentioned the situation of Protestant religious activities. 22 delegations are the representatives of the embassies of USA, Canada, Australia, Niwzealand, the European Union (EU) such as Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway , Poland, is about 15 delegations of the legislature, executive, research institutions and universities; 11 groups of organizations, American Protestant sects or based in the U.S.. 
US Commission on International Religious Freedom and US Ambassador on International religious Freedom John Handford U.S. paid much attention to activities of the Protestant of the ethnic minority in the Central Highlands, Northwest. Particularly for U.S. Institute of Global Engagement (IGE), through its partnership- U.S. - Vietnam Friendship Organizations Vietnam, had visited 7 times and worked in Vietnam, held 3 international conferences on religion and law, had 2 rounded-table talks on Protestantism, partly supported funds for 6 training conferences on Protestantism in some northwestern provinces.
Some conclusions 
Direction No. 01 meets legitimate religious activities of people. This changes the operation of Protestantism towards positive and progressive ways, so that dignitaries, religious followers trust guidelines and policies of the Party and laws of the State. Hence, it gradually removes prejudice against the government before. Relation between the authorities with dignitaries of the Protestant organization is established, strengthened in a reliable, friendly, sharing way. This has positive support for the government’s management over activities of Protestantism.
Implementation of Direction No. 01 has changed the perception of Protestantism and the work of the Protestants in the whole political system. It leads to a comprehensive, more objective access. Up to now, the assessment of Protestantism does not only see the negative impacts but also the positive impact of Protestantism in lifestyle. 
Implementation of Directive No. 01 has created cadres of religious work at all levels of professionalism in their work for understanding of Protestantism, has enhanced the qualifications, experience and behavior management for Protestants. Direction No. 01/2005/CT-TTg also helps local authorities improve the administration of religious hierarchy for the commune, ward or township shall manage Government Protestantism. Implementation of Direction No. 01 has stabilized the situation of Protestantism in the region. It contributes to political stability, social security y. At the same time, Protestantism also helps to create life in a saving way, and under the law. Backward customs and social evils are also eliminated...
Implementation of Direction No. 01 is an important part in foreign affairs and diplomacy. Protestantism’s improvement as mentioned above has changed the view of many foreign organizations and individuals, from "concern" to the sharing, consensus and finally positive views. Operation of Protestantism in recent years has contributed to promote Vietnam's accession to WTO, the U.S. government’s signature of Permanent Normal Trade Relation with Vietnam (PNTR). It also contributed to make Vietnam become non-permanent member of the Security Council of United Nations ... and especially to remove Vietnam from CPC list. 
However implementation process of Direction No. 01 remains shortcomings which must be addressed; for example, grasping thoroughly the policy of the Protestantism was not done, especially at the locality; the implementation Direction No. 01 in some localities was still delayed; the management after registration was still confused, ... a number of Protestant activity has some legal problems, especially the outstanding of history, some groups of Protestant sects have not registered and operated not in accordance with the law, ...
 It can be said, though it remains several exist, much work must be done later, but the result of Direction No. 01 is very considerable, very active. It asserts the promulgation and implementation of Direction No. 01 of the Prime Minister is absolutely correct and matches the real situation. It makes a turning point in operation of Protestantism in particular and religion in the general. /.